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80 parties seek INEC’s nod to conduct primaries

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With 150 days to the conduct of the 2019 general elections, no fewer than 80 of the 91 registered political parties have signified intentions to field candidates into the various elective offices across the federation.

This they have done by serving notices of intent to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in accordance with election regulations.Sixty-three of the figure are seeking to organise primaries to choose their presidential candidates, making the development the highest in the nation’s election history.

A source in INEC told The Guardian at the weekend that the commission was deploying human and material resources to ensure that it observes all the primary elections in accordance with extant guidelines.

The source expressed concern over the controversy being generated by the delay in the release of funds for the conduct of the exercise, noting: “The debate over the amount INEC is going to spend for the elections is needless and delay could be costly.

“Although we have reached an understanding with the various committees of the National Assembly concerning our own budget while waiting for the final approval by the parliament, there is still no agreement yet on funding for security operatives that will provide cover for men and materials during the exercise.”Of the N242 billion vote for the 2019 polls, N189 billion is for security agencies, yet none of them has been invited for budget defence.

The source disclosed that considering the cost per voter, the budget was to be the smallest not only in the history of elections in Nigeria but also among countries across the globe.

According to him, “with N189 billion for 84 million registered voters, the cost is about $2.9 per voter which is far less than the $13.9 spent per voter in the last election in Ghana. In fact in Kenya, the average cost per voter is $25. So our own is still very cheap.”

The source therefore urged all stakeholders to expedite action in the early passage and release of the elections fund.Justifying the recent ban on use of mobile phones at points of voting, he said: “In taking the decision, INEC was guided by the need to prevent vote buying. But we are also mindful of the need for voters to have phones not only to record any infractions but also to record the results of the units as they are pasted.”


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